3 Ways Smart People Lose Their Jobs

By Caroline Banton

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) So what are the stupid career mistakes that people are making in this age of social media? They may seem silly, but they can be serious, serious enough to get you fired! From calling in sick and then posting selfies from the beach to lying about your experience on a resume, these are mistakes you simply want to avoid at all costs.


Intelligent people can lose their jobs for silly reasons. While some of the mistakes are due to momentary lapses, others result from serious judgment problems.

Inappropriate social media postings are a persistent problem, partly because there are no clear guidelines for social media use in the workplace. Recently, Rolling Stone magazine chronicled some egregious social media faux pas that have caused people to lose their jobs. One such incident involved a re-enactment of an Islamic State beheading by U.K. bank employees. In another case, a GOP staffer rudely maligned Sasha and Malia Obama on Twitter. In both cases, the employees involved lost their jobs as a result of their poor judgment.

Here are three silly career mistakes that smart people make along with tips on how to avoid them.

Pretending to be sick and sharing your “Ferris Bueller” experience on social media demonstrates poor judgment to say the least. If you have abused company policies in the past, your boss might even consider firing you for pulling a “sickie.”

Dana Case, director of operations for MyCorporation, an online business incorporation firm, said, “Using sick time inappropriately is one thing, but blatantly posting about your day at the beach is just careless. Sometimes employees think of their bosses as separate from their personal lives, so they don’t even think about them seeing those types of posts but, if it’s on the Internet, it’s easily viewable!”

Think twice when posting on social media, and consider whether your post is appropriate for all audiences who might have access.

A savvy employee dresses according to his workplace culture and environment. While ad agencies and tech companies tend to have more liberal dress code standards, law firms are generally more traditional. Your appearance and demeanor should reflect the firm’s culture, as well as the types of clients you serve.

Devin Clark, who now works for the medical lien finance company, Medport Billing, had a negative experience while working at a credit card processing firm. Despite showing solid potential as an in-house representative, Clark was dismissed because a banking partner found his earrings to be unprofessional.

Although the way a person dresses is a form of self-expression, at work you represent your company. Your appearance counts, and it pays to conform to the work environment from 9 to 5.

A CareerBuilder survey revealed that 58 percent of employers have found outright lies on a candidate’s resume. While 51 percent of the 2,188 hiring managers and human resource professionals surveyed claimed that they would automatically dismiss a candidate who was caught lying, 40 percent said that it would depend on what the candidate lied about. Only 7 percent would be willing to overlook the lie.

Tempting as it is to embellish your qualifications, it’s best to list only those resume achievements that can be proven. A certified coach, human resources consultant and speaker, Lisa Phalen advises applicants to avoid even small lies.

“Tell the whole truth,” said Phalen. “Remember, a lie of omission is still a lie.”

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